The Advanced Fiction Writing E-zine

"Fiction Writing = Organization + Craft + Marketing"

The Advanced Fiction Writing E-zine

 
Publisher: Randy Ingermanson ("the Snowflake guy")
 
Motto: "A Vision for Excellence"
 
Date: July 9, 2013
Issue: Volume 9, Number 7 
Personal Site: www.Ingermanson.com
 
Circulation: 31939 writers, each of them creating a Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius.
 
"Fiction Writing = Organization + Craft + Marketing"
 
 

What's in This Issue

 
1) Welcome to the Advanced Fiction Writing E-zine! 
2) Organization: Why I Switched to Scrivener
3) Craft: Larry Brooks and Story Physics
4) Marketing: How To Find A Guru
5) What's New At AdvancedFictionWriting.com 
6) Randy Recommends . . .
7) Steal This E-zine! 
8) Reprint Rights
 
 

1) Welcome to the Advanced Fiction Writing E-zine!

 
Those of you who have joined in the past month (nearly 400 of you signed up in June), welcome to my e-zine!
 
You should be on this list only if you signed up for it on my web site. If you no longer wish to hear from me, don't be shy -- there's a link at the top of this e-mail that will put you out of your misery.
 
If you need to change your e-mail address, there's a different link at the top to let you update your address on my system.
 
If you missed a back issue, remember that all previous issues are archived on my web site at: www.AdvancedFictionWriting.com/ezine/
 
 

2) Organization: Why I Switched to Scrivener

I’ve been using Microsoft Word for nearly fifteen years. When I got my first book contract, I bought Word and imported the first few chapters of my manuscript into Word and finished the book in Word. I’ve used it for every book I’ve ever published.
 
Because professional writers use Word.
 
Not anymore. 
 
This past month, I switched to Scrivener, an inexpensive writing tool which beats the pants off Microsoft Word. And I’m using Scrivener in a lot of cases where I would have used TextWrangler (a popular text-processing tool for the Mac). I use Scrivener to write my blog posts. I’m using Scrivener to write this e-zine.
 
Scrivener makes writing easier in several ways. Let’s look at those.
 

Scrivener Makes Planning Easy

If you plan your document before you write it, Scrivener makes the process easy. A Scrivener “document” is actually a nicely ordered collection of smaller documents.
 
If you’re writing a book, then it’s natural to think of each chapter as a separate unit. Likewise the Copyright page. And the Acknowledgments page, the Dedication page, the Table of Contents, the Prologue, the Epilogue, the About the Author Page, and all the other special pieces of the book.
 
You can make each of these its own small unit within your main Scrivener document. You drag them into the right order. If you want to change the order, you drag them to a different order.  

When you’re planning your document, you can easily add in a bunch of empty units, give them a name that means something to you, sort them into order, and then work on them in any order you like. But the top-level plan is always clear.
 
Furthermore, if you decide that each chapter should really be a collection of smaller units (scenes, for example), you can do that. You create a set of empty scenes, give them appropriate names, and toss them inside the appropriate chapter. 
 
Then you can work on any scene you feel like, in any order.
 
When you’re working on a scene, you see only that scene.
 
But if you want the context, you can easily click on any number of other scenes and display them all together. They look like a single document in your window.

But each one is a separate unit. If you want to look at just one unit, you click on just that one and that’s all you see in the window.

It’s beautiful and simple. You can think of your document as a single thing or drill down easily to any piece.
 

Scrivener Makes Macro Editing Super Easy

When it’s time to edit your book, you often have to get rid of scenes, or move them around.
 
But what if you aren’t sure you really should get rid of that scene?
 
No problem. Click a checkbox to mark the scene as “not included”. If you later want it back, click the checkbox again to mark it as “included.” 

It’s easy to move scenes around, because each scene is a single unit. Just drag it where you want it, and it’s done. It’s a one-second operation. You don’t have to cut it in your giant Word document, scroll to the right place, and paste it back in.
 
You can also keep multiple versions of any scene. Just click the Snapshot button for a scene and it’s saved. Then you can edit the scene however you like. If the edits don’t turn out how you thought they would, take a Snapshot of the new scene (so you can always get it back) and then revert to the previous Snapshot. Easy as pie.
 

Scrivener Helps You Organize Your Research

I often do a ton of research for a book. Notes. Web pages. Pictures. PDF files. All kinds of junk. 
 
Scrivener has a Research folder where you can put this stuff. It’s right there handy to be worked on. But it won’t be printed or exported. It’s separate from your main document.

If you need to cut and paste something into your manuscript, just open the file and grab what you need. From right within Scrivener.

I keep a folder named “Images” in my Scrivener book documents. This includes the cover art for the book and any illustrations I might want for the book. When I need them, they’re right there inside Scrivener, waiting to be used. No searching around on my hard drive.
 
I also keep a folder with all the marketing info for each book. It’s a folder inside Scrivener, so it’s right where I need it. It has the marketing blurb for each online retailer. Sometimes retailers want a long version and a short version. I just make two documents, one for each.

Again, when I need them, they’re right there inside Scrivener, ready to use. 

Scrivener lets you create any number of folders. You can have folders inside folders. They look the same way folders are arranged on your hard drive. But they’re all packaged together as one Scrivener project. So you have it all right in sight. Nothing gets lost.
 

Scrivener Makes Great Quality E-books

Few things are more irritating than figuring out how to convert your Word document into the various e-book formats (epub and mobi are the two main ones, but you may also want PDF and RTF or even a Word doc).
 
Sure, you can just upload your Word document straight into Amazon or Barnes & Noble and hope that they’re smart enough to clean up your document. But that’s dicey, and the truth is that the e-book that comes out from that is never going to be beautiful. At best, it will be adequate. Quite possibly it will be mediocre or even ugly, depending on how those Word invisibles get translated into HTML.

If you want a really beautiful e-book with a great interior design, that’s a lot harder. The going rate these days is a couple of hundred dollars to hire somebody to convert your book to the standard e-book formats. Any number of e-book conversion service companies will do the job for you. But if you later need to fix typos, you have to ask them. And they may or may not give you exactly what you want.
 
Scrivener lets you create a really good e-book. It takes time to set up the interior design the way you want it. (But not much time. Less than an hour if you know what you’re doing.) Once you’ve done that, you can click a button to rebuild a new version of your e-book in under a minute.
 
That’s gold. If somebody calls you at 11:30 on a Saturday night to tell you about a horrible or embarrassing typo in your book, you can fix it on the spot in Scrivener, make the new e-books, post them to the online retailers, and be in bed by midnight.
 
Scrivener’s ability to create excellent e-books is the killer application that got me to switch from Word. 
 
If you’ve ever struggled with formatting a Word document so that Smashwords will accept it, then here’s a shock for you. Scrivener can generate Word files for Smashwords. Scrivener is better at creating Word documents than I am. (Read the Smashwords style guide to see all the things you need to do perfectly in order to create a Word document that the Smashwords Meatgrinder will like. Scrivener will produce that Word document for you almost effortlessly, including the Table of Contents that you’d have to create laboriously by hand in Word.) 
 
So I switched to Scrivener. This was pretty painless, because Scrivener can import Word documents. So it’s easy to just load in an old manuscript that was written in Word and break it up into bite-size chunks in Scrivener that are easier to work with. Of course, you could leave the original document as one big ugly chunk in Scrivener. You can work with big ugly chunks if you want. But the point of Scrivener is to work with small chunks. And Scrivener makes it fast and easy to break down big documents into smaller well-organized ones.
 
Is there a downside to Scrivener?

Sure. There’s a learning curve. You’ll need to change the way you think just a bit. You don’t think in terms of One Big Huge Document. You now think in terms of A Collection Of Small Documents.
 
I learn best when I have a tutorial in front of me. Scrivener comes with a truly excellent tutorial, written of course in Scrivener. As you work through it, the tutorial tells you to make changes to it. Mangle the tutorial all you want, with no worries. The original is hard-wired into Scrivener, so you can always get a fresh copy.
 
For people who learn other ways, there are video courses online you can buy. There are a number of excellent books. And if you learn best by simply trying things, the user interface for Scrivener is pretty clean (with a few unusual choices that take some getting used to).
 
And Scrivener comes with a very detailed manual in PDF format. I don’t love manuals, but when it came time to learn all the nuances of e-book conversion, the manual was gold.
 
I give Scrivener my highest recommendation. This is a tool that I expect to use for many years. 
 
It’s a tool that has already saved me more than it cost. 
 
It makes me more productive. If you take the time to learn how to use it (remember, there’s that pesky learning curve), Scrivener will make you more productive too. 

Get more done in less time. That’s what Scrivener will do for you.
 
If you want to learn more Scrivener, check out the Literature and Latte web site.
 
I’m not an affiliate of Scrivener, but if they have an affiliate program, I’ll join it. Because it’s a great product, and I like recommending great products.
 
 

3) Craft: Larry Brooks and Story Physics

I met Larry Brooks a few years ago at a writing conference. He was giving a workshop on story structure and I loved what he had to say.
 
After his talk, I introduced myself and we talked. We think along the same lines on a lot of things, although each of us comes at this fiction writing game from a different angle. 
 
Larry’s just published a new book with a title guaranteed to catch my eye: STORY PHYSICS. Larry is also the author of STORY ENGINEERING, which sketches out what he calls the “Six Core Competencies.” (I call them the Five Pillars of Fiction. Yes, we count things differently, but we’re talking about the same things.)
 
What is “story physics?” Larry invented this term, and he means the forces that operate in fiction. They’re the basic forces in story that make your fiction fly. If you like, they’re the laws of the universe that tell us what makes fiction enticing to readers. Things like premise, tension, pacing, empathy, vicarious experience, and narrative strategy.
 
You can write a novel without studying these, in the same way that you can go out and high jump without knowing about force, momentum, mass, and gravity. But if you know about those things, you can optimize your performance. Which is why high jumpers now can jump 18 inches higher than they could 100 years ago. 
 
Larry’s book just came out in the past month and he’s doing something nice exclusively for readers of my e-zine. If you buy a copy of his book (or if you already bought a copy), send Larry an email at storyfixer@gmail.com with the subject header “Randy sent me”. Tell him where you bought the book. If you bought the book online, you can also include the electronic receipt.
 
Larry will then send you these free goodies by e-mail:
  1. a free copy of Larry’s book proposal for STORY PHYSICS, which he prepared for FW/Writers Digest Books. If you ever wondered what a real proposal looks like, here’s your chance. 
  2. a free copy of Larry’s e-book, "Warm Hugs for Writers.”  
  3. a $25 discount on Larry’s "Story Coaching Adventure" package (which is normally $150). You don’t have to buy Larry’s package, of course, but the discount is valid for 90 days if you decide you like the way he thinks.
I recently interviewed Larry for this e-zine. Here’s how it went:
 
Randy: There are zillions of books on fiction writing already available.  What's new in STORY PHYSICS?
 
Larry: Most writing books focus on conveying what the reader needs to know to write a book that competes in the marketplace. That is professionally competitive.  The fundamentals, equally valuable (and often misplayed) for both newbies and experienced writers.  My first book ("Story Engineering") did just that, bringing a unique model and vocabulary to the process.  
 
But like a clinic on "how to play golf," there's a huge difference between doing things right, by the numbers, and then executing those fundamentals at a level of excellence that takes you to a higher level. A professional level of effectiveness.  This is why so many fundamentally sound books are rejected, and/or don't sell. They are technically fine, but they lack the "power" of what makes a story appealing.  
 
This book focuses on those qualitative differentiators -- the "forces" within a story (think of them as literary physics) that make one novel or screenplay better and more commercial than another.  Essentially, it goes beyond "how to get published" toward "how to write a bestseller or an award-winner," by again creating a model and a fresh perspective and vocabulary about those story essences that makes them more accessible to writers at all levels.  My earlier book was about the tools.  This book is about putting electricity, muscle and intention behind those tools.
 
Randy: That sounds cool. People often talk about “taking it to the next level” but they don’t always tell you how to do that, which is frustrating.  In STORY PHYSICS, you describe six "story physics" elements that drive fiction.  The first on the list is "a compelling premise".  What's the difference between an "idea," a "concept," and a "premise?"
 
Larry: A great question, because this is an area where many writers stumble.  All three terms are nebulous, and to a great extent interchangeable within the imprecise nature of the writing conversation.  Was The Da Vinci Code an "idea?"  Well, certainly it was that ... an idea on steroids.  When you break those terms down into three separate, sequential and hierarchical focuses, the writer suddenly has something to work with.  An "idea" is a seed, the genesis for something that will grow.  Could be anything.  
 
"I want to write a story about time travel" is an idea. JUST an idea.  Not a concept, and not a premise.  A "concept" is a compelling and appealing source of energy springing from an idea (even if this concept is the starting point itself), something that creates a stage, a landscape, upon with any number of stories could be written. 
 
Using that "time travel" idea example, you could leverage a concept from it like this: "What if, in a world in which time travel is a newly discovered science, a group of Big Thinkers sets out to retrieve genius minds and doers from the past -- da Vinci, Einstein, Plato, Steve Jobs, Jesus Christ, etc. -- and bring them to our time, in our world, to help solve our problems?"  That's NOT a story ... yet.  But it is a concept.  
 
Of course, complications ensue ... and when they do, that's leaning into "premise."  They are sequential.  From the arena, to the story platform, to the story's dramatic framework -- that's idea-concept-premise.  Lots of wiggle room in those connections, too.  The deeper you go into this hierarchy, the more the forces of story physics come into play.
 
Randy: Thanks, that’s helpful. I actually used your idea-concept-premise terminology recently when I was trying to come up with the marketing blurb for my latest novel, which I just released. I had been having a terrible time finding a way to explain the premise. And right while I was reading your book, I had a breakthrough. So I went to my computer and typed up 40 words that really catch the spirit of my novel.
 
Talk to me about "subtext."  In your book, it sounds a lot like what I call "storyworld."  Are they the same?  And do some categories of fiction need more subtext than others?
 
Larry: I think they are very much the same.  Because a "storyworld" defines its own parameters and constraints and laws and possibilities (in the above concept example, time travel becomes part of the storyworld, creating a permissible context, and thus a "subtext" for the story itself).  
 
Subtext isn't limited to environment, time and place, though, meaning the inner (as well as external) "storyworld" for your characters exerts force on their beliefs and decisions. 
 
A love story in a nunnery is different than a love story in a homosexual subculture or a community that tolerates bigamy or among grade school faculty members.  All are different contexts that exert force on everything in the story, and as such, they become part of that "storyworld."  
 
Subtext can also refer to unseen and unacknowledged forces between the players -- a husband leading a dark secret life (in any "storyworld") creates context for everything he says and does as a partner, parent and citizen, especially if/when he is hiding or planning something.  
 
Context is one of the most powerful words in fiction. Subtext becomes context in a way that blurs the line between them.  One is thematic, the other translates theme into action.
 
Randy: In chapter 12 of your book, you talk about how theme can be the "silent story killer."  Explain what you mean by that, because I see a lot of writers who want to change the world with their brilliant themes.
 
Larry: Challenging the world and its belief systems and laws is one of the highest callings of fiction. It's like sex in a marriage ... if it's ONLY about that, things probably won't work out.  Stories are very much the same relative to theme.  It (sex and/or your theme) can be hot, it can be great, it can be the centerpiece, but real life swirls all around it, and ultimately defines it.
 
My answer is found in this golden storytelling principle: "a great story isn't just ABOUT something.  It is about something HAPPENING."  
 
Randy: That’s for sure. And I see this a lot with novice writers. They want so bad to preach a sermon or paint a picture that they forgot that the reader came to watch a movie.
 
Larry: Which means, if the writer creates a hero that is merely a window into a theme, "the adventures of X within this time and place," primarily for the purpose of illuminating an issue, that can be a story killer.  
 
Because it may be weak on dramatic tension and pace, and on character itself (notice how, despite her strong themes, Kathryn Stockett used a PLOT to drive "The Help" to its thematic place in history).  
 
With conflict-driven drama in play, just "seeing" the world in which a character lives and moves will fall flat. In essence the theme kills the story ... not because of what it IS, but because of HOW IT IS HANDLED by the writer.  
 
A better story leverages dramatic CONFLICT within a particular and highly thematic time and place, allowing the thematic aspects to surface as -- and here it is again — contextual in nature, and therefore, illuminated.
 
If the writer clearly cares more about theme than plot, then the story is at risk, on several levels.  That's how theme becomes a "story killer" ... it smothers or displaces dramatic exposition of a plot. Theme works best when it emerges as a CONSEQUENCE of the story, rather than the sole intention of the story.
 
Randy: I’ve seen plenty of novels where the theme just drives everything, and it feels like the story was concocted to perfectly illustrate the theme. It feels phony. And it’s boring.
 
The flip side of that is the fact that some of the biggest hits of all time had strong themes.  Uncle Tom's Cabin is heavily theme-driven.  So is Atlas Shrugged, by Ayn Rand.  So is The Da Vinci Code.  So is The Shack.  
 
All of these books sold loads of copies.  And yet the themes of these novels contradict each other, so they can't all be right.  What are your thoughts on that?
 
Larry: Themes don't have to be "right" to be powerful. Mein Kampf by a guy named Adolf something-or-other did pretty well, and is still on shelves today. Propriety isn't the point.  
 
Yes, those stories do have strong themes.  But that's not remotely what I mean by theme being a potential "story killer."  
 
In fact, those stories also all have strong protagonists and a PLOT, giving us a character who needs to DO something, experience something specific, a character with a problem and a goal and external opposition to it — in other words, a PLOT -- rather than just a "tour" of the thematic issues. 
 
The hero of "The Help" had to write a book about racism (the theme itself), but that didn't just happen.  In fact, the whole story was about resistance to making it happen, and the consequences either way.  
 
Nelson Demille's bestseller "Night Fall" proposed a thematic truth -- that TWA Flight 800 was the victim of a missile and then an FAA/government cover-up. That was his theme, and he was selling it hard.  
 
Was that in contradiction to the "proven" truth?  Absolutely. But that didn't dilute or invalidate his intended theme.  The litmus test isn't truth, but rather, relevance and emotional resonance. 
 
Theme is simply what a story is asking the reader to think about, consider and challenge. Perhaps to feel and experience.  That's it.  Right or wrong isn't the issue, even when the writer wants it to be.  
 
A great story always grabs you on several levels.  One of those levels (The Da Vinci Code did this one really well), one of the options, is when it thoroughly pisses the reader off.   
 
Randy: LOL, I read The Da Vinci Code as fiction, so it didn’t really bother me that Dan Brown (in my opinion) didn’t go a great job on his research. But yeah, he did make a lot of people angry. 
 
One thing I try to teach my students is that nobody ever bought a novel because they wanted to change their religion or their politics or their basic worldview. But lots of people have bought a novel to be entertained and then ended up changing their religious or political beliefs or their worldview. Because story gets inside you and works on your emotions. 
 
Which brings us to another topic. You talk a lot in your book about "vicarious experience."  Why is that so important?  Can you give examples of stories where that's the strongest element?
 
Larry: Every romance novel that works — within that specific genre, or is a story that simply has a love story within it somewhere --  depends on "vicarious experience" to make it happen. 
 
That reminiscent, perhaps regretful, perhaps hopeful, but vivid feeling of being in love. Same with thrillers, sci-fi and fantasy. They transport the reader into an alternate reality, yet one in which they can RELATE.  
 
If the reader can travel to a time or place within your pages, if they can have experiences that are so vivid and frightening or exciting or enraging or otherwise provocative that it "feels as if they are right there," that's a force of storytelling. They can take the ride without the cost or the risk. 
 
Randy: Tom Clancy does that really well. When you read The Hunt For Red October, you almost believe you could drive a submarine. When you read Patriot Games, you almost believe you could stop a machine-gun-bearing terrorist with your bare hands. Almost.
 
When you read The Hunger Games, you can almost believe you’re there in the arena. When you read Orson Scott Card’s book Ender’s Game, you almost believe you’re a little kid in Battle School. So I agree with you that vicarious experience is a big part of story, and it’s something fiction teachers don’t talk about as much as I'd like. I call it the "powerful emotional experience" and my opinion has always been that this is the main purpose of fiction. It drives everything else.
 
Larry: This is a powerful piece of storytelling physics.  You may have never been on a space ship, but if the writer can make you feel as if you're having that experience, living it, that aspect alone is compelling.  
 
And if the other essences of physics are in play -- a hero we're rooting for and empathizing with, striving toward something we care about, with dramatic tension and pace, etc. -- then the vicarious experience is all the more integral to the overall impact.
 
The point of "Story Physics" is to define each of these forces of storytelling as an intention for the writer, a benchmark, a box to consider and check off as they expand their idea into a concept and then into a premise, and from there into a manuscript, and to harness those forces to make it all work more vividly, more intimately, more urgently, and more provocatively.  Not as a random result of how you've assembled your story beats and scenes, but as an intention for them.  
 
Without these forces of story physics in your quiver, you're writing on autopilot. On instinct. Or as a reflection of something you know or have read. Or in the hope of getting lucky. All of which can work.  
 
But your odds go up significantly when you know what WILL make your story work, and work better, more optimally, in the long run, and engineer these forces into your story plan, rather than retrofitting it later, which is always harder to pull off.
 
Randy: Some writers believe that instinct is all you need to write a story. Well, instinct is good. It’s essential. But it also needs to be guided by a trained mind. We’d never send a pilot off to fight the enemy with just instinct. We find pilots with great instincts and then we train the heck out of them.
 
Thanks for the interview, Larry! I appreciate your time.

 
A reminder to my readers. If you get Larry’s book Story Physics, he’s got some freebies for you. Here are some links:
 
 
 
 
Email Larry at storyfixer@gmail.com with the subject line “Randy Sent Me” if you bought his book and want his free goodies.
 
 
 

4) Marketing: How To Find A Guru

Want to learn more about the craft of fiction writing? Or the business of publishing? Or how to market yourself brilliantly? 
 
You need a guru. Probably several gurus, since gurus are fallible.
 
The only question is where to find your guru and how to siphon the knowledge out of his brain and into yours.
 
Most of my gurus are bloggers. I choose to learn from bloggers for several reasons:
  • They’re easy to find.
  • They present information in daily or weekly chunks that I can easily digest.
  • They give away a lot of information for free.
  • If I want to buy their more in-depth information, I can know that it’s going to be good.
If you’re not reading blogs regularly, then you’re missing out on a fantastic source of information.
 
And that’s the problem. 
 
Because reading blogs by visiting the blog web sites is a hassle. You have to remember to check out the blogs every day. And if you read many blogs at all, you’re likely to forget a few.
 
The easy way to handle that is to subscribe to your favorite blogs. 
 
Techie people subscribe to blogs using blog reader software that automatically checks their favorite blogs and pulls down the new posts using an "RSS feed."
 
But it’s easier to subscribe to blogs via e-mail, and the trend in the last couple of years has been to choose this option. It’s quick and easy and everybody has e-mail. 
 
If you want to use blog reader software, you can find a number of free apps on the Feedly web site.
 
I use the Feedly app on my iPad and it works pretty well, although this week Feedly has been telling me it's over capacity. This is presumably because the Google reader was discontinued this month and a lot of people switched to Feedly all at once.
 
There are a huge number of blogs. Here are a few of my favorites:
  1. Seth Godin’s blog  Seth may be the smartest marketing guy in the world. You will not learn marketing tactics from Seth. You will learn a mindset. You will learn marketing principles. You will learn to think for yourself.
  2. Joe Konrath’s blog  Joe writes about indie publishing and he expresses strong opinions, often in strong language. Some people love Joe. Some people hate him. But nobody ignores him. 
  3. Mike Shatzkin’s blog  Mike is great at giving you the big picture of what’s going on in publishing and what it means.
  4. Kristine Kathryn Rusch’s blog  Kristine is a Hugo Award winning novelist with many books in print and her blog is a terrific source of info on how to actually make a living as a writer.
  5. The Passive Voice  The blogger is “Passive Guy,” a lawyer whose wife is a writer. Passive Guy collects and summarizes the best blog posts and web site articles on the publishing industry.
  6. Derek Halpern’s “Social Triggers” blog  Derek collects insights from psychology research and draws conclusions about how to be a better marketer. He’s hilarious and gives you great content.
I could go on for much longer, but I won’t. Better that you should read a few excellent blogs than be overwhelmed with too many choices.
 
Some people will tell you that blogs are dead, that people have moved on to Facebook and Twitter and Pinterest.
 
That is utter nonsense. Blogs are better than ever. Blogs are one of the very best ways to learn from the best gurus in whatever field you’re interested in.
 
I should mention that I’m currently running an experiment on my own Advanced Fiction Writing Blog, where I'm trying to teach what I know using story-telling techniques.
 
I have this theory that people learn better via story. Some people do, anyway.
 
So this summer, I’m doing weekly blog posts on how to be an indie author. I'm doing the blog posts in story format. Some people like this format and some don't. 
  • If you’re an unpublished writer and you want to know whether self-publishing makes sense, then this series is for you.
  • If you’re an established author and you want to put your out-of-print novels back into print and earn a little cash, this series is for you.
  • If you’re thinking of becoming a hybrid author—doing both traditional and self-publishing simultaneously, this series is for you.
The working title of the series is “Indie Author Guidebook” and you can find the first four posts here:
  1. How To Spot A Predatory Publisher 
  2. Is Traditional Publishing a Scam?
  3. Should You Be an Indie Author?
  4. How To Find Your Novel’s Target Audience
As I said, this is an experiment. It's a bit weird, but I'm enjoying it and some of my Loyal Blog Readers are too. But I won't feel offended if you don't like it. Different people are different.

I’m an example of a hybrid author. I’ve had success with traditional publishing and indie publishing. I’m working on releasing my backlist of out-of-print novels as e-books. For each book I publish, I’ll choose the option that’s right for that particular book — indie or traditional.
 
There is a lot of antagonism going back and forth these days between the various camps. Some indie authors are anti-trad. Some traditional publishers and agents and authors are anti-indie.

I am not anti anything.
 
I am pro-author.
 
I want to see authors doing well. And I believe that each author is the best judge of what “doing well” means. If that’s indie, then great. If it’s trad, then also great.
 
Authors now have more choices than ever, and that’s good. So this series explores the choices and then focuses on one of them, the indie publishing route. 
 
My plan is to write a series of blog posts over the summer telling the story of one particular fictitious writer who decides to self-publish her work on Amazon. 
 
At the end of the summer, if the series proves helpful to people, I’ll bundle it up as an e-book and post it on Amazon and the other online retailers. 
 
If you want to make sure you get every post, I’d encourage you to sign up to get them by e-mail. There’s a box in the right margin of my Advanced Fiction Writing Blog that says “Subscribe to Blog by Email” which will get you signed up. 
 
No muss. No fuss. No hassling with blog reader software. And of course you can unsubscribe at any time.
 
Have fun!
 
 

5) What's New At AdvancedFictionWriting.com

 
My novel, Double Vision, is finished at last and online for sale. And it's about time! I thought I was never going to get this thing finished. This is a second edition of a book I originally published several years ago. Here’s the cover and a blurb:
 
Double Vision cover art

There's a Code Even the NSA Can’t Crack

But Dillon Richard can. Dillon is a straight-arrow genius with Asperger’s syndrome. He’s never told a lie. He’s never been kissed. And he’s never had a quantum computer for cracking codes. Until now.  
 
In just a few days, Dillon will finish the software to crack the “unbreakable” code that banks and terrorists use to protect their most valuable secrets.
 
Everybody’s going to want a piece of Dillon. The Mafia. The NSA. And his two beautiful co-workers.
 
Who'll get him first?
 
Double Vision is a hilarious geeky suspense novel about a guy who has no idea how attractive he is to women. In fact, he has no idea how women think at all. 

Dillon is terribly strait-laced, and he’s a bit shocked when he sees that his sexy co-worker Rachel doesn’t wear a bra. But he’s in for a bigger surprise when well-endowed Keryn shows him where she hid the quantum computer. 
 
As a special promotion, I’ve dropped the price to 99 cents for the next few days. (Be aware that the online retailers don’t always charge exactly this price to readers outside the US, and their pricing is sometimes outside of my control. Amazon adds a fairly hefty surcharge in many countries and I just don't have any say in that. Smashwords is likely to give you the best price outside the US.) You can check out Double Vision at these places:
  1. See Double Vision at Amazon
  2. See Double Vision at Barnes & Noble
  3. See Double Vision at Smashwords
  4. Find Double Vision at The Apple iTunes Store (inside iTunes)
On any of these online retailers, if you search for “geeky suspense” you’ll find the book.
 

My Conference Schedule for 2013

I normally teach at four to six writing conferences per year. This year, I'm easing off some -- I'm currently booked to teach at only three in 2013, which should give me a bit of breathing room.
 
Why don't I teach at more conferences? Because teaching is an incredibly demanding blood sport and it sucks a huge amount of energy out of my tiny brain. I prefer to put my absolute best into a few locations than to muddle through at many.
 
I've already taught once this year, so I have only two more to go.
 
In August, I will be teaching a six-hour class on marketing for writers at the Oregon Christian Writers Conference in Portland. 
 
I'll also be attending the ACFW conference in September but will not be teaching.

For October, I've just agreed to teach a workshop on "passive marketing" at the Novelists, Inc. conference in Myrtle Beach.
 
If you'd like me to teach at your conference in 2014 or beyond, email me to find out how outrageously expensive I am.
 
If you'd just like to hear me teach, I have a number of recordings and e-books that are outrageously cheap. Details on the products page of my web site.
 
 

6) Randy Recommends . . . 

 
I don't take paid ads for this e-zine. I do, however, recommend people I like.
 
 
I'm a huge fan of Margie Lawson's courses, both the ones she teaches in person and the ones she sells on her web site at www.MargieLawson.com
 
Margie is a psychologist who applies what she knows about human psychology to writing fiction. I believe her material is brilliant. Check her out on her web site!
 
 
I've also become a fan of Thomas Umstattd's terrific uncommon-sense thoughts on internet marketing. You can read Thomas's blog at: www.AuthorMedia.com/blog
 
Thomas and his crew at AuthorMedia are the folks who reworked my web site recently, and I'm extremely happy with the results.
 
 
Please be aware that in this section I ONLY recommend folks who have never asked me to do so. Tragically, this means that if you ask me to list you here, I will be forced to say no. 
 
 

7) Steal This E-zine!

 
This E-zine is free, and I personally guarantee it's worth at least 911 times the price. I invite you to "steal" it, but only if you do it nicely . . .
 
Distasteful legal babble: This E-zine is copyright Randall Ingermanson, 2013.
 
Extremely tasteful postscript: Yes, you’re allowed to e-mail this E-zine to any fiction writer friends of yours who might benefit from it. 
 
Of course you should not forward this e-mail to people who don't write fiction. They won't care about it.
 
At the moment, there is one place to subscribe: www.AdvancedFictionWriting.com
 
 

8) Reprint Rights

 
Permission is granted to use any of the articles in this e-zine in your own e-zine or web site, as long as you include the following 3-paragraph blurb with it:
 
This article is reprinted by permission of the author.
 
Award-winning novelist Randy Ingermanson, "the Snowflake Guy," publishes the free monthly Advanced Fiction Writing E-zine, with about 32,000 readers. If you want to learn the craft and marketing of fiction, AND make your writing more valuable to editors, AND have FUN doing it, visit www.AdvancedFictionWriting.com.
 
Download your free Special Report on Tiger Marketing and get a free 5-Day E-mail Course in How To Publish a Novel.

 
 

The Advanced Fiction Writing E-zine is Published by:

 
Randy Ingermanson 
 
 
Copyright © 2013 Ingermanson Communications, Inc., All rights reserved.
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